Kenneth Yas is the Managing Director, Americas, for WCPMedia Services (www.wcpmediaservices.com), a provider of asset management solutions to the media and entertainment industry. Here, he looks at the benefits and risks of cloud-based solutions.
The strengths of any cloud-based system are flexibility and convenience. Onsite storage, by contrast, takes up real estate, requires temperature and humidity control, needs frequent maintenance, and is expensive. Companies that continue to accumulate hard drives will eventually realize there is little return on their investment and will move to the cloud where they can store content on someone else’s server with no upfront cost or long-term commitment.
A strength of WCP, as opposed to other consumer-based and business-to-business cloud services, is the way it’s organized. It mirrors the taxonomy of production from acquisition through distribution. It’s tuned to this industry. The way content is organized in the database will look immediately familiar to anyone who has worked in videotape or film.
It’s also flexible. It works for a dailies technician, VP of distribution, or a broadcast control room operator. It has a wide range of features, but individual customers only need to use those necessary to their application. It’s a private cloud, it offers a high level of security and it’s affordable. Some systems charge for every download. We bundle costs so that they remain low and predictable. It’s adaptable. New features are constantly added to keep pace with technological innovation.
There is widespread resistance in the industry to any cloud-based solution for fear of compromising security. Companies worry that their IP will be hacked. It’s a legitimate concern, but we have security features built into our system that mitigate the possibilities of a breach. And we have proof that it works. Our system was used on HBO’s The Young Pope and Netflix’s Suburra, and not a single frame was stolen, nor any intrusion detected in either production. Security is a priority for any cloud data center, and a requirement for certification.
Cloud solutions and services are also challenged by inertia. Companies are hesitant to change if they believe that the system they have now is working, even if it’s antiquated, inefficient or obtuse. They fall back on it because it’s familiar. Sometimes, all it takes to overcome that attitude is to get them to test drive our system. Yet, even that can be challenging because, unless there is a crisis, they don’t make it a priority. Then, when a problem does arise, they give us a shot and discover it’s something they should have done long before.
The opportunities for WCP are enormous. We see a big market for our system among small- to medium-sized distribution companies. We can help them bring distribution in-house and eliminate reliance on outside facilities. For television productions, we can alleviate their problems with media storage and management. It’s just a question of getting the word out, overcoming resistance to change, and educating people on the benefits of doing things differently. On the dailies side, we see a lot of potential to service dailies acquisition and distribution of work-in-progress. We’ve successfully serviced several high-profile productions in Europe. We offer a compelling alternative to other services that cost more and don’t have our features.
Similarly, our platform offers solutions for broadcasters, who face challenges with the fast growth of content ingestion, the parallel increase of traffic and need for standardization. We can provide them with a uniform approach and a gateway to review and organize media before it lands on their playout servers.
There are systems out there claiming to offer production oriented cloud solutions, but when you take a closer look, the promises evaporate. They were developed by companies that are unfamiliar with the market. They may be backed by venture capital and they may market well, but they don’t deliver the goods. They are a threat because they make people suspicious of all cloud providers.
The fast pace of technological change is also a threat. Our product is a utilitarian, business-to-business solution, one that is quite powerful, and one that’s years ahead of where much of the market is. I meet with companies all the time that continue to store their data in a closet full of hard drives — data that has great value to them and represents a lot of blood sweat and tears. They know that their data is vulnerable, and they can’t continue to do business that way. But, we’re asking them to make a change that will take them leaps and bounds into the future.